California business law: New ways to get into hot water

It’s a new year, and that means that there are new employment laws on the books everywhere. More specifically, companies operating in California continue be subject to all sorts of employee-friendly laws. Hey, the state has to make money somehow!  And remember…ignorance is not a defense.  Rather than list out new California business law, we’re going to give you a few ways that you can get into hot water in California in 2016.

1.  You run an e-commerce firm in San Jose and you’ve hired three fulfillment reps – Tim, David, and Jennifer – to manage order processing.  All three employees have the same job descriptions and are doing work that is “substantially similar.”  You pay Tim and David $40k per year, and you pay Jennifer $35k per year.  This pay disparity is problematic due to California’s Fair Pay Act.

Temperature of water:  Hot 

2. You own a blog and media startup Bakersfield, but you open up a small office in San Francisco.  In order to afford your rent in SF, you pay your part-time employees $10 per hour for every hour worked.   While you’re meeting Federal minimum wage requirements, you’re not paying them in accordance with San Francisco’s local minimum wage of $15.25. You also fail to realize that due to AB970 the California Labor Commissioner can now enforce local minimum wage laws, in addition to the less-feared OLSE.

Temperature of water: Warm

3. You are the CEO of a professional services firm in Los Angeles.  Your company has been using E-Verify since 2014.  An HR Manager on staff uses E-Verify as part of the hiring process. You are talking to a new candidate and you really like her.  In “wanting to know a little more” about the candidate, you have your HR Manager run the candidate’s info that was included on their application through E-Verify.  You didn’t realize that this is now illegal. There is an electronic record of what has been done.  Be prepared to shell out up to $10,000 in penalties.

Temperature of water: Scalding

If you have a company or employees in California, try to avoid being like any of the companies above.  And if any of you feel inclined to take on “the law”, I’d encourage you to listen to what The Clash has to say about fighting the law (along with who won).

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